6 Surprising Things You Still Can't Do Online in 2016

By Sarah Winfrey on 10 August 2016 0 comments

It's 2016. The digital age, right?

Well, that's mostly true. There are more and more things that we can do online. And it's nice. Who wants to spend time standing in line when you can take care of business from the comfort and privacy of your own home?

Still, every once in awhile, you run into something you can't actually do on the Internet. Here are the things I've found that you still have to do in-person.

1. Use Food Stamps

It has recently come to light that people using food stamps cannot purchase groceries online. This can keep those who live in food deserts from obtaining healthy, unprocessed food. There are some movements online to change this but, for the moment, you have to show up in-person to buy groceries via a government program. While it might be harder to eliminate food stamp fraud, allowing food stamp use online would allow many Americans to eat healthier.

2. Make DMV Changes

This can vary a bit from state-to-state, but many places will not allow you to do things like change your address online. While some states will let you fill out an online form to make the change, you will still have to print it out and either send it in or take it to the DMV to get the change into the system.

Since you can't usually change your address online, I suppose it follows that you can't take the written driver's test online. While this makes sense in terms of eliminating test fraud and cheating, it means that every single person who wants to take the driving test needs to make an appointment, making for crowded DMVs in many states.

3. Apply for a U.S. Passport

Similarly, you can input all of the information you need to get a U.S. passport online, but you can't actually submit the form. For that matter, you can't pay for it online, either.

When it comes to passports, you have to submit your old passport when you apply for a new one. This helps eliminate fraud and helps the government track the different passports you have had. Since you can't send your passport through the computer, the government asks you to send your whole application packet together, by old fashioned mail.

4. Vote

While you can register to vote online, you can't actually cast your vote that way. It seems like it would be a positive move: more people would participate in elections, and the overall cost of having an election would go down.

However, voter fraud is a real thing. While there are probably some ways to implement online voting that would at least make fraud hard, the government hasn't invested itself there yet. Some states, like Colorado, are starting to send every registered voter an absentee ballot, though. That way, you can vote from the privacy of your own home, even if you have to send the ballot through the mail instead of the wires.

5. Pay Some Utility Bills

I don't know about you, but I still have a couple of utility bills that I can't pay online. Instead, I have to either send a check or pay by phone. You would think that even small companies would permit online payment, but there are still those that don't.

It seems like this is more common with small utility companies, like the family-owned trash company that services my area, or rural ones. If you can't pay online, try giving them a call. Paying by phone is almost as easy, and many companies are more than happy to let you use your credit card that way, so you don't have to have checks in order to pay your bills.

6. Register a Birth Or a Death

While you can often request documentation of a birth or a death via the Internet, you can't actually register either online. Even U.S. citizens born in other countries have to visit an embassy (or have parents do so) before they can get an official U.S. birth certificate or passport. For children born in the U.S., it's usually enough to have a hospital verify the birth and submit the proper paperwork, so the family doesn't have to actually present the baby anywhere.

When it comes to birth and death, the chances for fraud are very high. Even with all of the cyber security that's possible these days, more birth and death certificates would be fraudulently issued if the process was available online. When someone is held accountable for issuing these certificates, fraud is less likely.

Have you run into anything you can't do online? Do you think that's a good decision or not?

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